Japan selects Lockheed Martin to support MHI in developing next-generation fighter aircraft

by Kosuke Takahashi

Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on 18 December that it has chosen Lockheed Martin to support prime contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in developing the F-X next-generation fighter aircraft for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

Tokyo said the US company was selected because it has considerable experience in developing fifth-generation fighters – the F-22 and F-35 – compared with the other two candidates – BAE Systems and Boeing – which had also responded to a request for information from the ministry.

The MoD said it made the decision after evaluating the companies’ proposals based on three main aspects: mission systems integration, compatibility between kinematic performance and stealth capability, and capability to make detailed designs through computer simulation.

A conceptual image of Japan’s future F-X fighter aircraft released by the MoD in Tokyo in December 2019. (Japanese MoD)

A conceptual image of Japan’s future F-X fighter aircraft released by the MoD in Tokyo in December 2019. (Japanese MoD)

“Although we did not mention this in any paper, we also took into account having a higher degree of freedom to make modifications,” a defence official told Janes under condition of anonymity.

The MoD pointed out that Lockheed Martin is still officially a “partner candidate” as MHI has yet to finalise the terms of a deal with the US company.

Meanwhile, Tokyo said it will continue to seek partners to work on individual parts and sub-systems for the aircraft, including the engine and avionics. In this context the MoD said it will continue to explore possibilities to co-operate with the United Kingdom and the United States.

Defence officials said the ministry has been allocated JPY57.6 billion (USD556.8 million) for fiscal year 2021 (FY 2021) to fund development costs related to the F-X programme: a 519% increase over the current fiscal year.

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/japan-selects-lockheed-martin-to-support-mhi-in-developing-next-generation-fighter-aircraft

Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on 18 December that it has chosen Lockheed Martin to sup...

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